Fellows in the News

“We’ve been able to attract away and hire great minds,” Motley said. “When people see the innovation that’s happening in this city and the new reality of the university, they get excited.”

When research biologist Jennifer Bowen hit the interview circuit for academic positions in 2009, she was courted by Princeton University and the University of California. She agreed to interview at UMass Boston mostly because she had become fond of Massachusetts while completing her PhD at Boston University.

Expecting little, she said, she was surprised by a palpable feeling of purpose. Unlike Cal, which was grappling with a budget crisis, enthusiastic officials at UMass detailed a long-term plan to build the science complex and win more research funding. They also offered Bowen the chance to work with undergraduates.

“Princeton students are going to be fine with or without me,” Bowen said. “Here, I really like the fact that I can find undergrad students in the mix who have a huge amount of untapped potential. It’s amazing what a little bit of encouragement can do.”

Since joining UMass Boston, Bowen has snagged a prestigious award from the National Science Foundation for her team’s research into how saltmarsh microbes store carbon — a timely question as concerns about climate change grow.

Motley said Bowen’s testimony is a validation of his strategy: Rather than boost revenues by packing in students and building “revenue-generating” buildings such as dormitories, Motley is concentrating on academic and research facilities to attract better faculty and students.

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